An Eclectic List

Here’s one more guest post, this time from my dear New York friend, Mary Norris. Mary is deputy-head of the copyediting department at the New Yorker, so you know you need to listen to what she has to say. You can find Mary blogging on some of my favorite subjects, including commas and pencils, at www.newyorker.com and at her highly original and hilarious blog on life in the city with a car, www.alternatesideparking.blogspot.com  

Here’s Mary:

I loved the Summer Reading Club at the library of my childhood. The goal was to read ten books, and there was some kind of a system for keeping track: gold stars or red dots or filled-in squares. I still think of summer as a season for reading—for pure entertainment instead of school—and because I now spend the summer at the beach and have a long commute to work, I am especially intent on having a good supply of books. Fortunately, where I work there is a book bench piled with reviewcopies for the taking. I can never resist anything about the sea. Or Greece. Or Italy.Or Catholics. Or Freud. Or celebrity-chef memoirs. Today I picked up a copy of “The
Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English.” If I had any sense, I would put it back.

Here is my list for the summer of 2012:

1. “Surviving the Shark: A Surfer’s Terrifying Tale of a Brutal Attack by a Great White,” by Jonathan Kathrein with Margaret Kathrein. The author was
sixteen when a shark sank its teeth into his leg while he was surfing off the
coast of Marin County, California. I have gotten as far as his decision, in the
hospital, to speak in defense of the shark.
2. “Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea,” by Linda Greenlaw.
I’m now halfway through this account of a fishing expedition on the Grand
Banks. I’m not that interested in fishing, but I love stuff about boats, and this
one is by a lady skipper, the captain of one of the boats that Sebastian Junger
wrote about in “The Perfect Storm.”
3. “How to Sharpen Pencils,” by David Rees. A hilarious, poignant, straight-faced manual for pencil enthusiasts. I hope to visit the Pencil-Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio, with the author.
4. “The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance,” by Henry Petroski.
I should have read this years ago, but have only recently embraced my penicilophilia.
5. “That Is All,” by John Hodgman. I met Hodgman, who appears occasionally on “The Daily Show,” while I was waiting for David Rees to sign my copyof “How to Sharpen Pencils” and felt obliged to buy his book, too. He is a young guy,with a fertile imagination, and he writes for other young guys with fertile imaginations. I think he was briefly a millionaire for some reason.
6. “Privacy,” by Garret Keizer. From a series called Big Ideas/small books, put out by Picador. Garret Keizer is a terrific writer who I happen to know from graduate school. He and his wife, Kathy, helped me plant my first vegetable garden. I know he will be good company on the A train.
7. “God’s Hotel,” by Victoria Sweet. I love medical literature, and this is about a very compassionate rehab facility in California, and promises to have lots of gory details and case histories.
8. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. This has been on my shelf for a while. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, but have put off delving into it, even though it counts as medical literature.9. “The Prime Minister,” by Anthony Trollope. I have never read Trollope, who is a big favorite of some people I respect. Plus he was so prolific that he could fill my A train requirements for years to come. His is the only book on this list that I don’t have. Perhaps this calls for a trip to the library.10. To be determined, possibly during that trip to the library.

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